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World Top Stories France 1998

World Top Stories France 1998
Zidane with the World Cup champion in France 1998. PHOTO: Metro 95

The World Cup in France 1998 It meant the consolidation of France as a world power. The Gauls who had never reached the final of the most important football competition finally tasted the sweetness of success and also at home. They did it because they counted on an extraordinary generation of players like Henry, Small, Vieira, Barthez, Blanc and above all, Zinedine Zidane, the man who established himself at home as one of the best footballers of all time.

The World Cup in France 1998, the last of the 20th century

It was a modern World Cup, innovative. The emergence of mobile phones and the Internet revolutionized a tournament that for the first time featured 32 selections and that served to give greater representation to Africa and Asia. There was no shortage of important teams beyond Uruguay and Portugal and especially, three were the ones that appeared with the favorite poster. Brazil, with Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos I was the great candidate, but Spain with Kiko, Raul, Iron, Luis Enrique or Morientes also monopolized many glances such as Argentina del Burrito Ortega, Batistuta, Ayala or Verón.

France World Cup 1998
Zubi's blunder against Nigeria marked the beginning of the end for Spain. PHOTO: Brand

The first phase barely presented any surprises except in group D where one of the greats jumped. Clemente's Spain fell to Nigeria in their first game after a huge failure by Andoni Zubizarreta and tied against Paraguay, giving up their hopes of going to the second phase.

The second phase made it clear who the favorite teams were

The round of 16 brought the first strong plates of the tournament. France struggled and wished to eliminate Paraguay. He had to resort to the extension and to that experiment called “Golden goal” for Blanc to beat José Luis Chilavert for the first and only time. Argentina, he even had a worse time, because he had to settle his duel against England in a spectacular penalty shootout after a draw to 2 at the end of the regulation time in a match that was remembered for the expulsion of David Beckham. This game, let Zanetti's goal that saved a life thousands of kilometers.

France World Cup 1998
File photo dated 30-06-1998 of England’s David Beckham (L) is given the red card by Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen, after a foul on Argentina’s Diego Simeone during their France ’98 World Cup second round match held in St Etienne. argentina won the match 4-3 on penalties (2-2 after extra time).

The Croatia of 98, one of the great surprises

France that played with fire the entire tournament was going to open the quarterfinals against Italy. As many suspected, the game was very closed and only the penalties gave the win to the Gauls who entered the semifinals where a new emerging country awaited them: Croatia that had flatly beaten for 3-0 to Matthäus's Germany (who played his fifth World Cup) and it featured a very interesting batch of footballers with Suker in the lead and Prosinecki, To walk, Vlaovic or Stanic as the most faithful squires. Definitely the Croatia of 98 It was one of the revelations of the tournament.

Quietly, The other semifinal was configured by Brazil and the Netherlands. The Brazilians defeated Denmark with great difficulty by 3-2 in the goodbye of Michael Laudrup. The tulips had to resort to the magic of Dennis Bergkamp to leave Argentina in the gutter for a tight 2-1.

World Cup in France1998
The Croatian generation that reached third place in 1998. PHOTO: Brand

The World Cup in France was not a song for football, rather the defenses prevailed, the tactic and even the toughness. There were 21 yellow in what meant the championship record until then. That football soccer could be seen in the semifinals. France would win 2-1 to Croatia by tracing a 0-1 with two goals from Thuram. Brazil should resort to the penalty shootout to beat the Netherlands and deprive it of fighting for its first World title.

France-Brazil, the final dream was finally going to take place. But nevertheless, what was sold as a great match was going to be a French monologue. Zinedine Zidane, with two goals in the head he was going to seal a spectacular performance that was going to catapult Olympus from football and that was going to help France win 3-0 to an unknown Brazil where Ronaldo (of which time later it was known that he had an epileptic seizure) barely had prominence.

France World Cup 1998
Zidane scores before Rivaldo's eyes in the final of the World Cup in France in 1998. PHOTO: Infobae
Julio Muñoz

Julio Muñoz

Journalist, specialist in international football and retro. I write in Colgadosporelfutbol.com and you can follow me at @ juliomv1982

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